Saturday, December 6, 2008

Putting a sock in it


If you’re talking to me, there’s every chance I’m not listening.

My boss and I sat down for an annual review yesterday. Lots of positive stuff came out, but one fairly big 'black mark' also got flushed out: I don’t listen well.

People who’ve known me for a long time know this already. I think I knew it already – deep down – but perhaps hoped that no one noticed. Or something silly like that. But apparently my boss notices. So does my wife.

Is what I have to say really so compelling that it must block out the ability to hear others? Is it really so important that it must be heard?

Perhaps you remember the brief exchange that takes place between Marla and the Narrator in Fight Club when they connect with each other at a therapy group for cancer sufferers ...

Narrator: When people think you're dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of just... Marla Singer: - instead of just waiting for their turn to speak?

Ouch.

I was chatting this afternoon with a wise friend who has done a lot of consultancy work in some pretty challenging places. I asked him what opens a conversation up after it has become locked down. His reply was immediate: “What liberates a locked-down situation is people being listened to.”

When I read the parables of a certain Nazarene carpenter, I am reminded of the culpability of those who have ears but don't listen.

It is fine to think of oneself as an observer of patterns or designs. But it is folly to think anything of wisdom can be truly grasped without the willingness to really listen (and I think it is a question of the will; poor listening does not make me a 'victim' of bad genetics or entrenched habits).

I guess I'd better shut up now.

1 comment:

boxofficegirl said...

Ah yes,do we listen or do we really listen using more than just our ears?

A thought provoking post.